Restaurant review site UrbanSpoon is slowly moving into OpenTable’s territory. About half a year ago, the company launched a very limited test of a basic reservations tracking system for restaurants in the Seattle area. At that time, however, restaurant owners could only use UrbanSpoon to tell their customers whether they had last-minute openings. Now, however, UrbanSpoon is launching RezBook, an iPad app and online reservations platform that will allow restaurants to bypass OpenTable and manage their tables and reservation books. Currently, UrbanSpoon is testing the iPhone app with 5 restaurants in the Seattle area, but as the company’s co-founder Ethan Lowry told us earlier today, the company plans to expand this program nationwide over the next few months. UrbanSpoon will first concentrate its marketing on large markets like Seattle and Los Angeles, but anybody with an iPad will soon be able to download the application and use it. The app will be available in Apple’s store within the next few weeks.
UrbanSpoon will charge its customers a subscription fee of $99 per month and a $1 fee for every reservation that is made through its system (reservations through UrbanSpoon’s widget will be free).
The application will store its data on UrbanSpoon’s servers. Besides allowing restaurants to manage their reservations, the service will also include a customer relationship management database.
Manage Your Restaurant with the iPad
As Lowry told us, the iPad is an ideal device in the restaurant context, as it gives the host far more mobility than the regular large terminal that you can find in most restaurants today. Besides that, Lowry noted, the iPad is also very “cool and sexy,” something that a lot of restaurateurs appreciate.
With this move, UrbanSpoon is clearly invading OpenTable’s territory. According to Lowry, restaurateurs never really had an alternative to OpenTable until now. With over 8 million users, UrbanSpoon’s iPhone app is already one of the most popular restaurant-related mobile apps and given that the company offers a cheaper subscription price and runs on relatively cheap hardware, the company, which has been working on this service ever since Apple announced the iPad, has a chance to make a dent in OpenTable’s market.